Hearing on KMT affiliation of Women’s League planned for late April

Taipei--A committee under the Executive Yuan said Saturday that it will convene a public hearing on whether a women's group set up by former first lady Madame Chiang Kai-shek (????) in 1950 is affiliated to the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).

Shih Chin-fang (???), spokeswoman of the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee, said the committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the affiliation issue of the National Women's League of the Republic of China (???) in late April or early May.

Shih called on the league to accede to the investigation by the Ministry of the Interior and to provide related data as soon as possible.

A day earlier, the league said that the purpose of its establishment was to serve the nation and that no political party can dictate its personnel, finance or management.

It also announced that in a bid to extend its aim of caring for the public interest, it will donate NT$28 billion (US$905.7 million) from its total assets, which are valued at NT$38.1 billion.

Among them, a donation of NT$16 billion will be made to government agencies in charge of providing long-term care, NT$6 billion to social welfare organizations and NT$6 billion to the Cheng Hsin Hospital in Taipei.

The hospital, also set up by Madame Chiang in 1967, was originally a rehabilitation hospital for polio patients, but has since become a private general hospital.

"Since the league sees itself as an organization affiliated to the ROC, it is only natural for it to return its assets to the nation," Shih said.

She expressed hope that the league will use "wisdom" to propose a donation program that will meet public expectations.

On misgivings that the league's donation to the hospital is an act "giving from one hand to the other," Shih said the league should consider whether such a donation is "suitable," as it could "give a bad impression."

Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Interior said it is happy to see the league make donations, but said the priority should still be "openness and transparency" about its finances.

At issue is the funding of the league -- the so-called "surcharge for the military" (???) -- that it received from 1955 to 1989.

The surcharge, described by the league as a kind of "patriotic donation," was donated by importers and exporters, and was used mainly to build dormitories for soldiers and their families, as well as an orphanage for children who lost their parents in the Chinese civil war.

The ministry said that it received the league's financial settlement report for 2015 on Friday, but said it has not explained the financial settlement every year, or its balance.

The ministry said that in view of the fact that the surcharge for the military came from the public, the people should have the right to access the league's income and expenses.

Cecilia Koo (????), head of the Women's League, in a recent interview with a local newspaper, suggested that the organization is being unjustly targeted.

The 91 year-old Koo, wife of late Koo Chen-fu (???), who was one of the richest tycoons in Taiwan and served as chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), said that the Women's League is not affiliated to the Kuomintang (KMT), and quesioned how charity work can have anything to do with party affiliation.

She said the league was founded to take care of the poor, the sick and those unable to help themselves.

Initially, the foundation focused on helping military personnel and their families, after they relocated to Taiwan with the ROC government from mainland China in 1949, with work that included building dormitories, she said.

The funds the league was given for such construction work and looking after war orphans were donations from the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei, not, as some have suggested, "a surcharge" donated by the military for the league's assistance, she said.

The Women's League spent all the money it received from donations on building dormitories for soldiers and their families, as well as an orphanage for children who lost their parents in the war, said the chairwoman.

"The league helped the country cultivate talented individuals, helped with disaster relief, floods and fires, and taught military dependents handicraft skills," she noted.

The league "never misappropriated one cent of the money it received from the public" and "I have never pocketed one cent," said Koo.

Although the Women's League is "rich," that is because she was married to Koo Chen-fu, a successful businessman who helped the league invest wisely before his decease in 2005, she said.

Asked about the government's audit, Koo said the league has fully cooperated and has been working to locate financial records dating back to its founding, Koo said.

The Women's League came under the microscope after allegations that it illegally profited from close ties to the KMT and the KMT-led government in Taiwan.

The Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee was set up in August 2016 based on the Statute on Handling the Inappropriate Assets of Political Parties and their Affiliated Organizations. The statute was enacted by the DPP-dominated Legislative Yuan in July that same year.

Under the law, most of the KMT's properties have been frozen pending investigations by the committee into the assets held by the veteran political party. If the assets are determined to be "ill-gotten," they will be transferred to the state or returned to their rightful owners.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel